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Topics: Organizational Project Management, PMO, Strategy
PM Center of Excellence vs. PMO
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My organization's Project Management Maturity is developing. We are to the point where we have about 10 PM's who have "grown up" in different parts of the company (IT, Marketing, other business lines, etc). I've read about the advantages and disadvantages of the Project Management Office (PMO) organizational method versus the Center of Excellence (CoE) concept. I'd really like some feedback on the IMPLEMENTATION of these concepts in your organization over time.

1. Are you organized as a PMO or a CoE?
2. What do you like most about the way your PM activities are organized?
3. What needs the most improvement?
4. If you could start over how would you organize differently?
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My current org has both. The PMO sets the stage, the CoE refines. It works well enough but there can be confusion about which group is responsible for what. It's a learning cycle.

I very much enjoy the discussions that our CoE fosters. PMs talking about their experience, what works, what doesn't, how they resolved a problem. Given my druthers, I'd promote this further, with the PMO then responsible for setting up structures that take this chatter forward.
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There's a good article on this on PMI's website:

https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/proje...excellence-6611
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Sante,

Excellent article. I like how the transformative effort is laid out as a change and project management exercise. Thanks for the help!

jtf
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You're welcome John.
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We are organized as a PMO. I believe a couple of years ago the organization tried the route of CoE (in addition to a PMO and several other niches of project management), but got lost in the semantics, and roles and responsibilities, so it died...
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Personally, I prefer the CoE concept. My last organization had a PMO, but their effort and interest lied solely with IT projects; they would not provide any support to projects their division didn't lead.

I was approached by many other PMs for advice and assistance, so I established an informal CoE, in which we would meet monthly, usually over a long lunch, to discuss different PM issues and help establish a working library of tools and best practices. As a result, we were able to improve our cross-division coordination and project performance, all without the help of a formal organizational structure to support our efforts.
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I'm struggling with the difference between a PMO, COE and a COP.
My understanding is that a Center of Excellence (COE) is a smaller group that recommends/requires certain practices or templates be used. The leaders of the COE have authority.
And a Community of Practice (COP) is a group with similar interests who share experiences with a common goal of improving. All levels welcomed, and all experiences can provide learning.
And if my understanding of COEs and COPs is correct, then I'm struggling to understand the difference between a PMO and a COE.
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CoE is the place where buisness analyst and BRMs are located. PMO is the place where portfolio/project/program managers are located. Both are diferent. At least for my personal experience after more than 25 years helping organizations in doing that.
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1 reply by Eileen Remlinger
Apr 03, 2019 12:18 PM
Eileen Remlinger
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Interesting, Sergio. So for you the PMO is for project managers and the COE is for business analysts?
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Apr 03, 2019 10:48 AM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
...
CoE is the place where buisness analyst and BRMs are located. PMO is the place where portfolio/project/program managers are located. Both are diferent. At least for my personal experience after more than 25 years helping organizations in doing that.
Interesting, Sergio. So for you the PMO is for project managers and the COE is for business analysts?
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Eileen,
A CoE defines the methods and practices that the organization will use for project management (among other things), while the PMO has the RAAs to select plan, and execute the projects themselves.

It's sort of the like the difference between academia, and businesses. The former focuses on theory, while the latter uses the theory in practice.
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